Women increasingly migrate for economic reasons; Trafficking also rising
– UN REPORT
UN, New York, USA
March 3, 2005
Increasingly women are migrating as part of what used to be predominantly
male worker flows and are becoming the principal wage earners for their
families, but in the search for economic gain, they are also becoming
more vulnerable to trafficking, a United Nations report says.
"At no time in human history have as many women been on the move
as today," says the 2004 World Survey on the Role of
Women in Development: Women and International Migration,
which was launched today in conjunction with the 10-year review of the
outcomes of the 1995 Beijing conference on women by the UN Commission
on the Status of Women
Growing numbers of women are migrating on their own rather than as family
members, the chief of the UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs
(DESA), José Antonio Ocampo, told a press briefing to launch the
Women are empowering themselves as they either take on new roles in their
host countries or learn to cope at home with the absence of a migrant
husband, he said.
About 90 million women around the world form 49 per cent of migrants,
up from 46 per cent in 1960, he said, but he acknowledged that data collection
on women migrants needs improving.
The difference between the smuggling of undocumented workers and trafficking
is that undocumented people might pay to be transported across borders
in search of better life prospects, while the trafficked, also looking
for legitimate occupations, find themselves trapped into prostitution,
forced marriage, domestic work, sweatshops and other forms of contemporary
slavery, the report says.
Carolyn Hannan, the Director of DESA's Division for the Advancement of
told the briefing it is important to reduce the supply of trafficked persons
by informing the public about the dangers of trafficking and, on the other
hand, to examine and reduce the demand by traffickers, those who exploited
the trafficked and officials who might be supporting them.
Economic opportunities in their home countries and channels for legal
migration can prevent women from being lured into trafficking networks,
she said. Responses to trafficking should balance prevention and prosecution
by protecting the rights of trafficked persons because harsh punishments
for undocumented workers could make trafficked people afraid to report
The author of the study, Susan Martin, an expert on international migration
from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, said a small but important
percentage of migrants, about 10 per cent, are refugees and about 75 per
cent of refugees are women and their dependent children.
Wars, conflicts, repressive policies, fear of persecution for religious,
ethnic or political reasons, as well as gender-based violations, like
female genital mutilation, honour killings and domestic abuse, persuade
women to seek asylum in other countries, Dr. Martin said.
The report recommends educating such women so they could become literate,
have access to livelihoods and make informed decisions about their
own lives, she said.
For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news